A Whimsical BrillianceLocal artist explores multiple themes with a common thread
Written By Anne Riley
Photos By Dawn Harrison
April Levi’s artistic talent manifested at an early age. She remembers beginning to intentionally create art when she was 5 years old, and since then, the paintbrush has practically never left her hand. The great majority of her life has been experienced through a lens of brilliant color and artistic adventure, and although she loves to explore a variety of themes and processes, each piece that she creates has something in common: a sense of whimsy that’s somehow playful and elegant at the same time.
Her love for art may have started in childhood, but it certainly didn’t end there. During her time at Vestavia Hills High School, April’s studies focused on fine arts, and she earned a few awards from the school for her artistic talent. She went on to pursue a degree in Commercial Art and Graphic Design at Bessemer State, and was accepted into a student art show at Birmingham-Southern College.
After graduation, April continued her work as an artist by establishing a career in graphic design that has lasted more than 20 years and includes a past position as the resident acrylic/mixed media artist and graphic designer at Forstall Art Center in downtown Birmingham. Although her career has centered around graphic design (she still freelances on the side), she feels a pull toward screen-free work and hopes to focus more along those lines in the future.
“To be able to put paint to canvas and create movement and texture with beautiful colors on a daily basis is magical to me,” she said. “A dream come true, really.”
As any great artist will tell you, experimentation is essential – and April is no exception. She enjoys pushing the limits of what she knows in order to uncover new processes and ideas. With a specialty in contemporary art, April currently finds herself enamored with acrylic painting.
“I am obsessed with painting abstract florals at the moment,” April said. “I imagine I’m looking up at the sunlight shining through the leaves on the trees — how the light forms a fractal image. It is fascinating to me.”
Although she’s created an incredible number of pieces in her life, April has a special place in her heart for her small landscapes – especially pieces she’s created from personal road trips.
“Something about painting the journey ahead puts a smile on my face,” she said.
When it comes to the actual process of creating art, April loves two things the most: seeing her imagination come to life on the canvas, and making a mess with the paint. “It brings out the kid in me,” she remarked.
These days, you can find April in Studio 16 at Artists on the Bluff, which recognizes itself as “a community of highly qualified creative residents who utilize the facility as working studios and offer daily and/or weekly classes, as well as offer original art items for sale.”
April offers an open studio on Tuesdays from 1-8 p.m. for a fee of $15 per hour (supplies not included). During this time, students may come and work on a painting of their choice in a group setting while April spends time intentionally helping and instructing each painter.
She also teaches a night class on Wednesdays from 5:30-8 p.m. for $45 (supplies included). This is a great opportunity for students to learn the basics of acrylic painting, experiencing a variety of acrylic mediums and developing proper techniques.
As an art center for all ages, Artists on the Bluff is a gold mine for anyone looking to learn or improve their artistic technique under the tutelage of a professional. The public is invited to come by for a visit Tuesday through Friday between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m., browse the artwork, and maybe even sign up for a class or two. Class options include kiln-formed glass, expressive paintings, beginner and intermediate drawing, pottery and more.
Artists on the Bluff will have a sale this September that will include work from all resident artists. They also have an open house every December for interested art lovers to come and see what all the fuss is about.
For more information about April, visit Artistsonthebluff.com or connect with her on Facebook at facebook.com/Aprilsmixedmedia.